Proving Geometry

An inquiry into the overlay technique and other mathematical theorems in mapping and modeling software
Special credits to the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Frances Loeb Library

I propose that the technique of layering cannot be examined in isolation; its form is contingent to the practice and principles of modernist aesthetics and urban planning in postwar United States. Drawing from preliminary archival and ethnographic work, I trace the ways in which the technique of layering first conceptualized by Harvard design professor and planner Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, came to outline how vision, territory and control are constituted. Before introducing thematic map overlays to the first Indonesian planning school in 1959, Tyrwhitt (1955) developed the theory of “The Moving Eye”. The Moving Eye, Tyrwhitt claims, is unique to ‘non-Western’ spatial composition with each eyeful “balanced from multiple perspectives where a constantly scanning outlook evades any central objective” (1955: 116). This and other early innovations in computer graphics and mapping software unsettle the facticity that accuracy is simply a technical matter of correspondence, insofar as cartography is associated with the grey layers of maps.

See also Chicago’s Deep Time Pamphlet ”Driving the Golden Spike” by Brian Holmes